Construction could start this month on an ORNL Federal Credit Union branch on South Rutgers Avenue, and the building could be complete by the end of the year, officials said.
The new branch will at the same site as the original main Oak Ridge branch. The branch will move from its current location next door at the ORNL Federal Credit Union headquarters building, which is also on Rutgers Avenue.
The estimated cost of the 5,000-square-foot branch at 215 South Rutgers Avenue is $4.5 million. Some materials from the original office will be used in the new building.
“This branch represents a multi-million-dollar vote of confidence in Oak Ridge,” said acting chief executive officer Colin Anderson, ORNL FCU senior vice president and chief financial officer.
It will be in the new tax increment financing district created for Main Street Oak Ridge, the redevelopment of the former Oak Ridge Mall, so new tax revenues at the site will help support the redevelopment, Anderson said.
He said the six-acre ORNL FCU site, which includes the headquarters building, is on prime real estate in Oak Ridge. Anderson said he wanted to “double down” that the Credit Union will be able to occupy the new building by the end of the year.
“This is a momentous occasion for our city,” Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch said.
“It’s definitely going to enhance this entire area,” said Melinda Hillman, board chair for the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce.
When the new branch is complete, ORNL FCU will renovate its three-story, 54,000-square-foot headquarters building at 221 South Rutgers Avenue. The building will be remodeled and redesigned to consolidate the Credit Union’s “back office” operations. Officials said the Credit Union now has support staff spread around town, including on Mitchell Road and Broadway Avenue, and those workers will be able to move back into the headquarters building after renovations are complete.
“We wanted to stay in Oak Ridge,” said Marcy Catron, ORNL FCU board chair. “We wanted our headquarters here.”
The new branch will have new interactive teller machines, or ITMs. They are like ATMs but feature on-screen tellers. The tellers will work inside the headquarters building.
ORNL Federal Credit Union already has ITMs at its North location on Clinton Highway and its West location on Kingston Pike, and is adding them in Clinton, Chief Marketing Officer Tommy Smith said.
Anderson said the project will include “green space” between the new branch and headquarters building, and the Credit Union plans to host community events there, including arts, music, sports, and games.
“I think it’s an excellent step forward for the center of our city,” Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said.
Also in the works: a three-story, 24,000-square-foot regional center at Northshore. Construction on that center could start later this year, possibly in November, officials said. That center will house mortgage operations, member business services, and will become the home office for CU Community LLC, a credit union service organization.
The original branch at 215 Rutgers Avenue was demolished in fall 2014. That location was the Credit Union’s sole branch between 1969 and 1987, before housing the Operations and Imaging departments for 27 years.
Chartered in 1948 with $50, ORNL Federal Credit Union now has about $1.7 billion in assets, serves 16 counties, and has roughly 150,000 members.